EPISODE 5: DURGA PRASAD

Episode 5
28:32

Podcast Excerpt:

“When, I was preparing for CBAP, uh, I did not have much exposure to the people who had actually completed it. See back then the number [of CBAP’s] was limited. It was hard to find people, though I had BA’s in my organization.. I felt a little bit challenged because I went to a hard way. I just wanted to make it easy. I found a useful resource online. Uh, some PDF file that has all the inputs and outputs of BABOK each, each and every task. And that was very helpful. So immediately, I created an input output diagram for BA’s, and published it just to help me learn a document, and shared it with different groups. There was a lot of demand for this kind of mentorship. Then I thought why not? I, uh, start contributing. So I started working on each and every chapters, created the treatment, started publishing it for free.”

Episode Transcript:

Tracie:

Hello everyone, and welcome to the traceability podcast. I’m your host, Tracy Edwards. And today our guest is Durga Prasad. Durga is a certified business analysis professional and scrum master. He’s an active contributor to the BA community in Ontario, Canada. And he gives back by providing training to aspiring BA’s and by helping to provide tools and tips for using the BABOK guide more effectively and for taking the IIBA certification exams. Welcome, Durga!

Durga:

Thank you for having me here today.

Tracie:

We’re really excited to have you. Um, you know, I’ve, I’ve been impressed as we’ve been interacting on LinkedIn, your, uh, your devotion to the BA community and willingness to put yourself out there. So really glad to have you here today.

Durga:

Thank you very much for the kind words.

Tracie:

Uh, I want to kind of go back to the beginning. I know that you did not start out, uh, sort of on the BA career path, so maybe, uh, how did you start out and how did you find a BA career from that?

Durga:

Um, actually, uh, I was graduating to become a, um, investment banker in 2008 because of the recession. I couldn’t find any, uh, investment banking, uh, major jobs. So I was actually, um, evaluating different professions and I did not get any good opportunity then. So I went back home. India, I did my masters in UK by the way. So, uh, it’s a good college. It’s a university, you know, as TIFF Glasgow. So I meant back home. So my father did. Um, we have a family of traditional family business. Uh, we are into protects times. So I got this opportunity as a VA, as a business analyst, less process analyst, uh, in one of the textile manufacturing company, digitalizing their business. So I got an opportunity that in 2011, so I took it up. I have no clue what business analysis space it was then. So I did not have any clue about it. So I just started capturing processes. I was away observing the processes and different stuff. And I’ve worked there for three years almost, and it was like proper traditional work, proper traditional business analysis work. I learned a lot then. Then I moved on to multinational companies later and I’ve identified a few years in the international companies. In India and I will do a Toronto, Canada two years ago or a better opportunity. And now I am handling business conservation projects as a business consultant slash project manager, slash product product manager, you name it.

Durga:

So I’m, I’m multitasking. Um, all the weekends. Uh, I, I’m a trainer, business analysis trainer. I conduct trainings virtually and, um, classroom sessions. Um, I have a company called Mentor Next Door. So, uh, it started for me. I’m functioning now, so I’m just trying to, I’m just a stimuli that because it’s a side hustle, so not much focus. I’m only focusing on training and now, so that’s in the, uh, I’m here with you Tracie today, and that’s my journey.

Tracie:

And that, that’s quite a journey. And then we’ve talked before about, you know, sometimes you’re in a situation in life where you either need to choose to pivot or you’re pivoted against your will. And so, um, you know, I find it really interesting that, that you sort of recognize the reality of, of the economy and the things that were going on back there, in the 2008 to 2010 kind of timeframe and that you were able to find business analysis because of that and have ended up, um, finding a love for career as, as you’ve, um, sort of embraced it and, and dived into it. And what was it about the career that attracted you once you were in it? What kind of grabbed you and made you feel passionate about business analysis?

Durga:

Just as I do live, I have no clue at all about the business analysis then. So once it started working on processes as I actually started, um, loving that, um, activities of observing the processes and the as is process and, uh, designing the to be process and I’m in like completely into processes now. So that element actually attracted me to be in the profession and, uh, after two years of work experience there in that, um, environment I wanted to like spread my wings. So I wanted to learn more about that and understand how a proper software development have a proper, proper software takes place. So just wanted to learn more. So I moved on. Well, a multinational company, they’re the people, the team, they such a wonderful people that they are very particular about, uh, the best practices in business analysis and the project management. So, uh, I’m very fortunate that I was part of that team, so I learned a lot from them. And then I actually, uh, was I was introduced to IABA and, and I started reading BABOK, understood the best practices and started mastering them. Like I started using those terms and the practices and the like, I started practicing those concepts in real time.

Tracie:

I think process analysis is a really good way to experience the profession for those of us who enjoy thinking in terms of efficiency and how to do things a little bit better process, uh, analysis as a great way to, to sorta jump in. And so just a plug there for process analysis as an entry to the profession. And then I, I think it’s great that, that from there you sort of, it was a springboard to finding the IIBA and the BABOK and then really sort of digging into the differences and in true business analysis. So tell me about your experience with the BABOK because I know when I first started with it, something that was a little challenging for me was a, I kept trying to think of it, uh, in a linear progression, which it’s not. And how were you able to sort of break that down?

Durga:

Uh, actually when I first, um, um, and then BABOK I was like, what is this? Why is this cookbook so dry and dry? And I did not understand much. So I gave it a read, like I read more than six times. Then I started thinking in terms of connecting those chapters to my project. So I created a sequence and it worked out. When they connected, I jumbled all the chapters, not chapter one, chapter two. I went by like jumbling those chapters. And BA Communication comes first. Uh, BAPM comes next. You know, I just tried to jumble and read to make, make, just like have you go in a project, just like phases. So I started reading in that kind of sequence and it had really helped me understand BABOK and yeah, so I even now I teach that to my aspirants in my training. So that sequence to tackle,

Tracie:

I love that. Thinking of it from a sequence diagram perspective, sort of putting it all together in terms of um, the sequences of your projects and also love the idea that, you know, there’s, there’s some of us that kind of are, we’re either in large corporations that have a lot of business analysts or were in corporations that don’t know what business analysis is quite yet. You were very fortunate, to be in a place that wanted to pursue best practices and gave you the room to figure out what those best practices were. So maybe talk about, was there anything you had to do within the organization to sort of sell them on what you were trying to do with understanding best practices or were they kind of already there?

Speaker 3:

Oh, they’re already there because they had a pool of four business analysts CBAP certified. So they’re like quality certified BA professionals. A lot of learning there but just like a lot of learning because that’s the more than like 15-20 years experienced business analyst staff. So the massive information to a lot of knowledge there. So I couldn’t contemplate back other than practicing those.

Tracie:

Are there, are there any mentors that you had along the way that helped you in that situation?

Durga:

Yes. A mentor. Yes. I like, I have so many mentors now. Initially my project manager was my mentor. Because he graduated just from a business analyst to a project manager. So he was my mentor and even now I’m in touch with him. So he’s my mentor of obvious business analysis though I’m not in touch with them because they got busy because of the time difference. He got busy and I lost touch. These mentors. I have mentors for every concept. I have mentor for yoga, for my life events.

Tracie:

Well I love that. I think, I think that speaks to the need that, that we all have that um, you know, being independent is a good thing, but we also need to recognize that there are times we need to ask for, for guidance. And it sounds like you were able to, to find that, uh, at that the organization and that led you really to sort of identify being a mentor in your own right to, to other people. So, um, you’ve moved to Toronto and you’re in this organization. How is it that you sort of came upon the desire to really train and mentor other people?

Durga:

Okay. When, uh, when I was, um, preparing for CBAP, uh, I did not have much exposure to the people who actually completed see back then because there was, the number was limited. It was like less than 4,000 when I worked for, uh, to see that. So it’s, it was hard to find people though I had people in my organization, you know, uh, the willingness should be there. I felt a little bit because I went to a hard way. So I, I don’t want to go to that base or I just wanted to make it easy. I found that useful resource online. Uh, some PDF file that has all the inputs and outputs of BABOK each, each and every task. And that was very helpful. So immediately, I created an input output diagram for BA’s published just to help me learn a document, and shared it with groups of someone’s like six or seven months there. So there was a lot of demand for this kind of mentorship then why not? I, uh, start contributing. So I started working on each and every chapters, created the treatment, started publishing it for free.

Tracie:

You know, I think there’s really so much going on there, finding a hidden need, but you’re also one who has this nature where you want to sort of break things down for yourself and understand things better. And you’re also willing to sort of put yourself out there and your willingness to do some of that work in your head and then share it. I think you landed on a hidden need and that has turned out to be a really positive thing. You know, so many of us sometimes we feel like we’re not having the impact that we want to have in our organizations and that kind of thing. We also maybe aren’t putting ourselves out there in a way that, um, would allow us to have that impact. And so it sounds like you’re able to kind of put those two things together, that desire to have impact and that willingness to put yourself out there, which as you and I both know can be a bit of a scary thing. You don’t know if people are going to appreciate it the same way, but it sounds like they did. And did it just sort of grow organically from there?

Durga:

Yes. And grow organically. Right after that download, I started uploading a lot of stuff online without my notice. IIBA Toronto chapter used my slide for their study groups and they reached out to me on LinkedIn saying that we used your slide today, thank you very much for this upload them. That’s a great honor. That was like, wow, I’m making some impact at least. Okay. And I started with that motivated me to post the work, what are the content? So I started walking on air and uh, even now, even then some of the organizations, have my slides from SlideShare and they use that.

Tracie:

Uh, thank you for calling out SlideShares a resource. I think that often SlideShare has a bit of a forgotten resource for, for when we’re um, starting to sort of put, put ourselves out there, plug for SlideShare because I have done a lot of uh, individual study using SlideShare, things that other folks have put together over the years. It sort of leads me to just sort of wonder your feelings around that. We all need to be responsible for our own, um, BA education and not really relying on our organizations to help us with that. So what has that really been like for you?

Durga:

Uh, here, uh, after coming to Canada? Um, the organizations are, I know it’s my, my start of my opinions, my experience. Maybe someone may have a different experience in my organization. They only look at what you deliver. They don’t remark, whatever, what skill set you need, uh, what kind of training you may require. It’s our duty to those goods to say all of a sudden they come tomorrow, they may come with a cybersecurity project. Say, can you please handle this? You should be ready. You cannot simply say, no, I don’t know. I have to, I need some time. You know, at the end of the day, revenue matters. So if you are not delivering somebody else who deliver, so just to be ready in that ballgame, you know, to be, you know, you should start focusing on your own self study. You should not rely on someone else to learn your own organization or read for them to tell you, go learn something. That’s my opinion.

Speaker 2:

Now, I very much agree and I think as you talk with other consultants in the community, a lot of the things that they have been able to accomplish is because they pursued it for themselves kind of thing. So, and you make a really great point that um, if you’re not prepared, someone else will be for the opportunity plug there for being a, being a champion of ourselves and making sure that we’re prepared for any opportunities that that might potentially be available. We never know when those are going to be. So you speak of cybersecurity, so is that one of the next things on your self self training agenda?

Durga:

Yes Tracie. Uh, I’m actually working on a seminar, improving my knowledge on cybersecurity concept and also, uh, robotic process automation. I got an opportunity like three years, not two years, six years back to work on it, opened up the process automation of proof of concept rung back in 2015. So we were trying some, um, automating some processes along back in 2015 we were the early adopters then the company was the earlier after them. So I had an opportunity to work on some pilot projects. So I left a number of the look back into the LA PA. So now, uh, I came across some articles that RPA plus artificial intelligence is going to make a big Cumulus gonna make a huge difference in the total business transformation projects and the businesses. So I turned okay, why don’t I get back to the RPA master, that concept. And I’m also a venture into artificial intelligence simultaneously on cyber security. So these two are and ways to improve the knowledge. Just, just, I’m not going to deep dive into it just to understand that if someone asks that some other day, like any other days, I’m going to ask me like, what is this concept about? Are they asking me anything about the subject? So I should be in a position to tell them or just explain, at least have it. So this one to make sure I’m getting ready.

Tracie:

Well, you know, cybersecurity is such an important topic these days. I believe it was in this last week that IIBA released a statistic that there is an attempt to have a cyber attack every few seconds. Definitely very important there. And plug for the IIBA. I believe they’ve got a cybersecurity certification.

Durga:

Yes,

Tracie:

definitely. Uh, if the, any of you have an interest in that topic, it’s going to be important. And um, Durga, it’s good that you’re sort of on the forefront there.

Durga:

They’ve used um, um, study guide for cybersecurity. Now I got the link from IIBA to like a week back. So it’s a kind of curriculum domain so they just ask people to review it. So it’s a good one to pick up because this force business analyst at the cyber security space.

Tracie:

Absolutely. So thinking kind of where you want your career to your career path to go from here, you’re a sort of a BA consultant slash PM at the moment. Um, do you foresee going more towards project management?

Durga:

Yes. Uh, uh, currently, uh, I am um, handling of this transformation project as a project manager and also working on a product development as a product manager. It’s a different project. So from product managers, product development is company when you uh, come on game. So I’m trying to again, work on it. Learning, getting hands on. What am I planning for? My future is I want to become a full time trainer onsite, finish this project management stuff. I would say master this concept. I’m going to uh, uh, plan. Uh, I’m planning to become a full time trainer, business analysis trainer because there’s so many, uh, practitioners who are looking for this guidance.

Tracie:

Yeah. That, that’s a wonderful, um, wonderful vision. So tell me about your plans for the Mentor Next Door.

Speaker 3:

Yes, Mentor Next Door. I actually came up with this concept that, you know, I um, just uh, if you want to talk to your mentor, you know, normally what I get is I get people asking you for the time, can you devote your time again and get your time for 15 minutes or 20 minutes and you, they get permissions. So my concept is I want to develop a website where it is just like, rather than, Oh, I’m telling you my training, my training was still in the product development stage, so I just want to give them a service and just let them.

Tracie:

Oh that’s great. That’s great. So the, so the idea would be that they would reach out and get a certain length of time of coaching from you

Durga:

from me and I’m actually trying to engage or trying to collaborate with the great mentors in the business analysis world. So I’m just trying to reach out to people such as what to system, lesson concept. I want to just stay blessed so I’ll reach out to the great people and how to reset the U S

Tracie:

yeah, absolutely. And we will make sure that that gets mentioned in our show notes and so the, so that people can go there. So you and I were talking briefly yesterday and brought up the topic of meditation. And so tell me a little bit about your meditation practice and how that has helped you in your life and career journey.

Durga:

One of my friends told me about this meditation practice and a 20 minutes practice. And you can have everybody do one minute. You can continue in meditating like itself to you. Like you can sit and concentrate. So actually like 45 minutes to one hour. I prefer doing that early hours, like 4:00 AM. That is when you have absolute pillar of silence and you’ll give me like fresh with lot of energy. So that helped me, uh, uh, perform at work. Like I should save for X almost four times. My memory, uh, actually increased. Like I can still remember what kind of, uh, uh, diagram we drew in that particular meeting. And what were, who are the stakeholders sitting in, sitting in the meeting, you know? Uh, my memory skyrocketed nation. Uh, I’ve been practicing there for four months now. Um, it helped me a lot, basically, uh, focus on my tasks and, um, pretty much active the whole day. I don’t say I’m a completely different person. Uh, not in 2019. And especially the stress at work, you know, you get a lot of uh, you know, got to the one to task in there. This meditation will help you focus and gives you that energy and the ability to handle and jeopardy.

Tracie:

I can certainly appreciate that work these days can be very stressful and challenging. We’re all being asked to kind of do more with less and um, move from project to project and change priority from moment to moment and, and especially as a person in a hybrid role myself sometimes, uh, it can be a bit difficult to switch mindsets from moment to moment. And so I personally do a daily devotional, um, half hour to an hour early morning every day and that definitely helps me set my day off right as well.

Durga:

That’s great. That’s great. Good to know.

Tracie:

So I definitely appreciate where you’re coming from there with the minute meditation and would just encourage folks who are listening to have some sort of daily practice where you can decompress and clear your minds and be ready for the challenges that are going to be coming upon us along with the opportunities as well. So Durga, tell me, uh, what’s coming up next for you. I know we’ve got the Mentor Next Door and we’ve got the cybersecurity and those other interests. Long term, long term vision maybe.

Durga:

So long term vision is like I want to stabilize this Mentor Next Door to become a full time trainer and I’m wanting to make sure that I help as many candidates as many aspirants again. So I just wanted to make it back. That was that. That is my long term goal. The short term we used to finish my ACE transformation project and I comment on that and look for the new opportunity.

Tracie:

I think that’s important to have a sort of like our, our one year plan and our five year plan and our 10 year plan. And, and that kind of thing. So, uh, kudos to you. How can folks find you

Durga:

and then they can reach out to me on my LinkedIn. Um, they can just a text away or a message from them. They can contact me on my LinkedIn and give you my LinkedIn profile link.

Tracie:

We can put that on the, in this get added to the show notes.

Durga:

So I’m, I’m very active, so, uh, maybe, um It might take a few hours to respond, but I’m very active on my LinkedIn. I spend almost aggregate, I spent almost an hour responding to the messages I get on LinkedIn. So there’s so many people who reach out to me about, uh, uh, questions and business analysis questions. So I keep that as funding to them or today.

Tracie:

That’s awesome. And, uh, I can attest to your activity on LinkedIn and your positivity and your willingness to, to help folks. So really appreciate you being here with us. Uh, both yesterday and today as we’ve been trying to make this happen. So, uh, for those, uh, listening, if you liked what you’ve heard today, or if something in particular resonated with you, leave us a comment at traceabilitypodcast.com or send me an email at tracie@traceabilitypodcast.com. And again, look for Durga on the Mentor Next Door or on LinkedIn. Thanks for being with us today.

Durga:

Thank you very much, Tracy.

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